Southwest Scorcher: Near-Record Heat for Phoenix, Vegas

June 1, 2012; 8:20 AM ET
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Some digital thermometers could read this high over the next couple of days in the hottest parts of the Southeast. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

As the Eastern half of the country cools off following record heat earlier this week, the Southwest corner of the nation will become the focus for sweltering conditions.

Temperatures will soar above the century mark across most desert and interior valley locations from central California to Arizona into the weekend.

Some of the hottest locations, such as Death Valley, Calif., will top out again near 120 degrees today!

While temperatures above 100 are commonplace for many Southwestern locales as we head into the summer months, the heat to end this week could prove to be exceptional for this time of year.

Numerous record highs will be in jeopardy today as the heat peaks in major cities such as Phoenix (record is 110 degrees from 1977), Las Vegas (107, 2001) and Tucson (105, 2002).

Records already fell on Thursday in Palm Springs, Yuma and Death Valley on Thursday.

Even the Central Valley of California will be scorching, with Fresno expected to record its first 100-degree day of the year today.

The driving force behind the heat is a strengthening ridge of high pressure. Temperatures will cool a bit after the high pressure pushes off to the east this weekend, but will still manage to break 100 each day in some areas well into next week.

All people, but particularly those sensitive to the heat, should take it easy over the next few days, and stay well-hydrated if venturing outdoors during the peak of the heat.

Very dry air and gusty winds accompanying the warm air is bad news for those battling wildfires in the region.

According to officials, a wildfire burning through New Mexico's Gila National Forest has become the largest in the state's history, having burned more than 270,000 acres.

Relative humidity levels in the single digits and wind gusts to 30 mph are causing the fire to burn out of control. More than a dozen homes have already been destroyed, with hundreds of residents currently displaced.

Fortunately, slightly higher humidity levels are expected over the next few days over, but rain is not in the forecast for the foreseeable future.

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